Do the words "AA-Hista" in Arabic Farsi which means slow (or not fast) and "hasty" in English have the same roots?

It appears to me that a prefix of negation "a" has been used in front of hasty to give the ArabicFarsi word.


On checking I found out that the word A Ahista is a Farsi (Persian) word (Reference I could find) ; So now I request for a reconsideration.

"To speak ahista does not just imply speaking low. The expression may also implore us not to go too fast in our speech delivery. Both meanings are inbuilt in the root, from Farsi ahista" >>

  • 2
    No, they're not related. Arabic and English have no roots in common, unless they're borrowed. The a- negative prefix is from Greek, and appears only on Greek roots; on Latin roots it's in- and in Germanic it's un-; they're all from the same Indo-European root.
    – jlawler
    Sep 24, 2013 at 16:25
  • What does the "AA" mean? The Arabic letter Ain? Do you think you could add how the word in question is spelled in Arabic? That would be helpful.
    – robert
    Sep 24, 2013 at 17:14
  • Double vowels in transcriptions normally refer to long vowels, rather than letters. In the case of Arabic, there are no specific vowel letters, and the Arabid letter Ain is not a vowel in any case.
    – jlawler
    Sep 24, 2013 at 18:34
  • 2
    I don't think the OP's question does or should rule out common roots via borrowing. So the fact these two words are not related and the fact that English and Arabic are not related are a bit of a nonsequitur. Sep 26, 2013 at 6:05
  • 2
    If it is Farsi, then at first sight it becomes more likely, as Farsi is (distantly) related to English. However, according to the OED, haste, though coming via French, derives from a Germanic root haefst, and Germanic /h/ usually comes from IE /k/. I don't believe Indo-Iranian /h/ ever comes from /k/, so borrowing aside, they cannot be related.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 3, 2013 at 20:38

3 Answers 3


It is hard to work from transliteration alone, rather than original orthography and/or phonemic transcription and I am no Persian specialist, but the word "hasty" is very obviously derived from "haste", which is itself a loanword from the old french "haste" that became "hâte" in modern French.

"Haste" comes from the Frankish stratum, it is theorized to be descended from Frankish *haist, itself a descendant of Proto-Germanic *haiftiz and ultimately of Proto-Indo-European *ḱēybʰ-

As you can see, this does not leave much room for a Persian etymology, and the answer to the question in the title is most likely no.

On top of that, Wiktionary lists several Persian prefixes with negative or privative meanings : نا (nâ) ضد [zed̪] بی /biː/

As you can see, none of them are simply "a-". "a-" as a privative suffix is descended from Old Greek ἀ-, ἀν-, itself descended from Proto-Indo-European root *n̥- whose descendant in Persian is suffix نا (nâ) above.

  • 1
    And, most importantly, the meaning was very different, cf. "OF. haste (mod. hâte) — WGmc. *χaisti (OE. hǣst violence, fury, ON. heifst, heipt hate, revenge, Goth. haifsts strife; OE. hǣste violent, OHG. heisti powerful)" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, 1996); "ÉTYM. V. 1170, haste; hâte, au XVIe; francique *haist «violence, vivacité» (Le Grand Robert).
    – Alex B.
    Oct 4, 2013 at 4:07
  • If it helps, I believe the Persian spelling is آهسته (I came across a Hindi movie called "Ahista Ahista" meaning "slowly, slowly". Simple research told me that Hindi borrowed this word from Persian. Based on the similar transliteration, meaning, and language of origin, I am assuming they are the same word. Unfortunately I was unable to find any information past that)
    – acattle
    Oct 4, 2013 at 8:47
  • So do we have a 'history' of the origins of this word in Farsi as then your hypothesis will get fully validated.
    – ARi
    Oct 21, 2013 at 5:51

"Not fast" is in Arabic ليست سريعة (pronounced something like "lessat sahirah").

Hurry is definitely of Nordic origin. Commercial relations existed between present Scandinavia and Arabia, but the similarity is probably fortuitous. Some Arabian words have been introduced much later, when they were at the top of their civilization, and Europe less advanced in some fields of knowledge (algebra, algorithm,nadir, zenith, etc.).

  • 2
    Please see my edit above
    – ARi
    Sep 26, 2013 at 16:14
  • 2
    Aside from the fact that the OP misspoke and ahista is actually of Farsi origin, I don't see how this answer addresses the issue at hand: Are Eng. haste and Per. ahista related?
    – acattle
    Oct 3, 2013 at 4:23

Persian āhista آهسته “slow, gentle” begins with a long ā. The Indo-European privative prefix *ṇ- appears in Iranian (and still in Middle Persian) as short a- before consonants and an- before vowels. In New Persian initial a- becomes zero and initial an- become n-. So it should be obvious that the long ā- in NP āhista is not the privative prefix.

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